The peony is one of the most common kinds of aerial pyrotechnic effects. It is named for a variety of plants with large, showy flowers. This firework has a starlike explosion that quickly turns into a bulging circle of stars, but without any trailing. The dahlia is a variation on the peony. This effect has larger stars that travel farther than those of the peony.
Take the peony and add a trailing effect to the stars — you’ve got a chrysanthemum firework. The gardeners and botanists among us have probably noticed a theme: all the effects thus far take their names from flowers, some of which have rich etymologies themselves. The dahlia was named for Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, while chrysanthemum comes from Greek roots, meaning “golden flower.”
The diadem effect is a stunning variation on peonies or chrysanthemums. This firework contains a center of stars that briefly remains still — creating a freeze frame of celestial wonder. Breaking from the botanical theme, diadem means “royal crown,” and plays a pivotal role in the Harry Potter books. The word can also be used as a verb: On July 4th, Americans diademed the sky with patriotic displays.
One of the more unusual names for a fireworks effect is the kamuro, which is Japanese for “boy’s haircut.” This explosion creates a tight cluster of silver or gold stars, with attendant glittery, cloudy trails. By the end of the effect, you will be hard-pressed not to see the haircut in the sky.
There are many more types of aerial effects, as well as a slew of ground fireworks: poppers, snaps, parachutes, spinners, fountains, Roman candles, snakes, and strobes. Plus, pyrotechnicians have a long list of jargony vocabulary.
Here’s one more to prime you for the grand finale: A crossette is an aerial effect that spits stars outward. These stars travel a short distance before breaking into smaller stars and crisscrossing each other in a gridlike pattern.
Know additional names of explosions, sparkles or other fireworks effects? Share them in a comment.